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What’s in your bottled water?  A comprehensive new Environmental Working Group (EWG) report found that you really don’t have any way to know.  What’s on the labels?  Bucolic scenes of mountain streams and crystal clear lakes adorn the plastic bottles along with vague claims about the pristine source and purity of the water.  The unfortunate reality is, there is no such thing anymore.  All drinking water needs to be properly treated before it is consumed. 

EWG studied the “transparency” of 173 varieties of bottled water.  That is, they evaluated how well the bottled water companies provided information about the water’s source, purification methods and results of purity testing.  Turns out, for over half of the brands, very little is revealed about where the water came from, how it was treated, and what’s actually in it.  The bottled water companies like it this way.  They have been fighting hard against labeling even in the midst of serious public criticism for lack of accountability.

The most shocking finding was that 8 of the 10 best-selling domestic brands earned a D or an F.   So the mainstream brands (can you say Coke, Pepsi, and Nestle?) that you may have thought you could trust are resisting accountability.  What do they have to hide?  What is in their water?

In 2007, California passed a law requiring basic information on bottled water labels.  Of the 96 brands inspected there, only 24 complied with this new law.  Surprisingly, the California bottled water labels were less forthcoming than brands sold elsewhere!

If you’d like to see how your bottled water stacks up, you can visit the EWG report card.   Hopefully, your brand didn’t earn itself a place on the EWG “Shelf of Shame”!

The only A went to filtered tap water.  If you are drinking bottled water because you think it’s “better” than tap water, think again!   Unlike bottled water, tap water quality is strictly regulated.  Consumers have access to reports about their water’s source, testing protocol, and test results.   If you want to drink the best tasting, healthiest, cheapest, and most carbon-conscious drink, fill your reusable stainless steel water bottle with your own tap water, filtered if you like!

Aren’t you tired of being asked to buy wrapping paper, candy, popcorn, cookie dough, or magnets at your children’s schools? The offerings are often way overpriced, useless, or just plain bad tasting. Last fall, when I was trying to figure out what sort of environmental project to do at my son’s school, the PTO president complained to me about the girl scouts drinking bottled water at their meetings and how great it would be if they would use reusable bottles. It was like a lightening strike in my mind. YES! That is exactly what we need – reusable school water bottles for everyone!

We convinced the PTO to sell┬ácustom stainless steel water bottles school-wide and make it a green fundraiser. Before it was all said and done, it was a town-wide school fundraiser, involving seven schools – the first one of its kind in town. We decided to price the bottles close to retail prices to keep them affordable and still generate some profit for the school. We ended up selling 1500 bottles to a school population of 3500 students and raising over $8000! This was truly something novel: we sold something useful and earth-friendly while raising money for the school. A win – win – win!